Evaluating Deni Avdija
This time around, I decided to take the time to watch Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 6-8, 2001-born point forward Deni Avdija, as he is a smart, skilled basketball player that could potentially end up going very high in the 2020 NBA Draft. Right now, people may be divided on where he should rank as a prospect currently, but he has also been making noise as a prodigious, talented player in the highest levels of basketball. On the other hand, he has also not played much at those levels, but neither did Brooklyn Nets’ second-year forward, Rodions Kurucs, who recently had a solid rookie season this year in the NBA.
So I set out to watch Deni Avdija, as I saw him play against Ironi Nes Ziona in a December 9th, 2018 game with thanks to YouTube via Cole McKeel, as well as against Fenerbahce Ulker that took place on April 5th with thanks to YouTube via BREAKIN TV. Here are my thoughts on his skills and how his game may translate to the NBA, based on my observations.
Deni Avdija is a very good shooter that can make a variety of three-point shots to help his team space the floor on offense. He moves well off the ball, as he will use off-ball motion to get open, and he is a very good spot-up shooter off the catch. He also was able to make an open pull-up three once after dribbling right off of a screen. He has a repeatable stroke that allows him to make outside shots effortlessly, though it does seem to take him some time to set up, as he may have a bit of a slow release.
He also did a decent job of making shots off of curl cuts. He was able to use a pump fake off of one to score on a floater after dribbling in from the high post, and he also managed to score patiently on another off the glass. He can make shots with either hand off the dribble. Sometimes, he can struggle to make mid-range jumpers, and there was one play where he curiously took a contested mid-range shot when he could have passed to an open teammate around the basket in transition, which could have potentially netted him an assist on that play. He also attempted to score on a right-handed drive in the half-court another time, but he ended up missing the shot, as he had trouble scoring in traffic on that occasion.
Also, he displayed solid playmaking skills when he was on the floor. Avdija is a smart, savvy point forward that has good court sense, and he will throw sharp passes to set up scores for his teammates. He is adept at throwing crisp interior passes, and he can promptly find open shooters to get them the ball quickly. He also can dribble off of screens to find open teammates on the move, and his team trusted him to bring the ball quickly up the floor on several occasions.
Plus, he also showed an adequate ability to rebound the basketball. He didn’t grab a rebound against Ironi Nes Ziona on December 9th, but he did a great job of grabbing boards against Fenerbahce Ulker on April 5th, as he would often leap up to get defensive boards, and he also aggressively leapt up to get an impressive one-handed defensive rebound in the second half of that game.
Avdija possesses adequate defensive skills. He is an active, tenacious defender that will stay with opposing ball handlers and fight through screens, which can allow him to successfully challenge shots or to force his man to pass the basketball. While he would often cheat off his man to help in the paint, he would also tend to recover to close out and contest the shot, which allowed him to force opponents to miss on three-point shots. He is skinny and will need to add strength, but because of his thin frame, opponents would overlook his ability to defend in the post, as there was one play where he held his ground when defending a big man to force him to miss on a fadeaway jumper.
Sometimes, he can over-help in the paint and he can tend to over-rotate in trying to get back to his man. Occasionally, he will sag too far off his man, and there was one play where he over-rotated when trying to get back, which led him to fall and committed a foul on a drive that time. He also over-rotated on an opponent when attempting to defend a baseline drive, as his team allowed a score on that occurrence.
Right now, Deni Avdija is talented basketball player that can play multiple positions, as he can run the point or play off the ball. His ability to shoot, pass, and handle the basketball could allow him to fit into any offense, which could prove to be an asset when he gets to the NBA. On the other hand, he will need to show that he can defend upper-echelon players, as he will face more athletic opponents in the NBA. If he has a strong season this year, he could end up being a lottery pick in the 2020 draft.